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The Ecstasy of St. Theresa

"I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying."

Teresa of Avila, The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (XXIX.17)

This masterpiece by Bernini is in Santa Maria della Vittoria (Rome), where, intriguingly, the Borghese Hermaphrodite was discovered during work on the church, which was on the grounds of the ancient gardens of Sulla. Appropriated by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, he then funded the remaining work on the church faade.

Reference: The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (2006) translated by David Lewis.


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